Conowingo residents sickened by smells
CONOWINGO — Neighbors on Steelman Drive had been smelling an odor they suspect is natural gas for several days but Thursday morning it was so pungent that some were getting sick.
“I had slept with the windows open and had shut off the air conditioning,” said Arthur Campana. Waking for work around 3 a.m. he didn’t feel well.
“I thought I had food poisoning,” Campana told the Whig. Then he decided that the last thing he ate — popcorn — could not have made him sick.
Kelly Campana said, like her husband, she had been feeling the effects.
“I’ve had a headache all week,” she said. “This morning I couldn’t even walk outside.”
“You couldn’t she added.
Neighbors told also affected.
“One called me and said her kids woke up sick. They were vomiting,” Kelly Campana said. Another said the odor had soaked into fabrics and clothing in her house.
Karen Serra said her husband went out for an early morning smoke and didn’t stay out long because of the smell. She added whatever the source of the odor, it did not trip her carbon monoxide detector.
Returning home from work hours later, Arthur Campana opened his garage and was hit with a blast of the odor. Walking from the garage to his front entry the smell got worse.
“It permeated the house,” breathe,” of children he said. With his mother arriving for a visit he was anxious to ventilate his home.
In the midst of all this he began thinking “what was the source of the odor?”
“It’s not fer tilizer,” he said, noting he is familiar with the agricultural fragrance.
Campana also contacted Old Dominion Electric, thinking perhaps there was a gas leak at the Rock Springs or Wildcat Point Generating Facility and the company needed to be made aware. Told there was no leak on the utility’s properties he contacted BGE and Delmarva Power. He learned that Delmarva Power does not supply natural gas in western Cecil County and BGE’s lines do not run to Conowingo.
Some tried to lay the blame on local propane companies, all who said that propane and natural gas have different odors, and the smell was not propane.
“I even thought someone’s septic had backed up,” Arthur Campana said of the pungent odor.
Ruling out all that he turned to Columbia Gas and its network of pipes that travel from the Gulf of Mexico through Cecil County en route to Pennsylvania and New York.
Columbia Gas was by TC Energy 2016.
“Last summer I saw them putting in shut off boxes,” Campana said. He tried to talk to the installation crew. “When I asked them they said, “Don’t worry about it” and said nothing more.”
TC Energy crews could be seen surveying the area and BGE did send a crew to investigate as well.
Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for BGE said they came up empty.
“They have not found any indication of any natural gas leaks nor is there any indication of any natural gas odors in the area,” Jamerson said via email.
By 1 p.m. Thursday the smell was still lingering but not as overwhelming.
“But this has been going on for five days,” Campana said. “You call and call and no one wants to talk to you.” acquired in
Arthur Campana said when he came home from work Thursday afternoon a heavy natural gas-like odor that was outside when he left had built up inside his home and met him when he opened his garage door.